Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Thank You BBQ-Or, Adventures in Long Distance Caregiving

Yesterday was a day I wished was not necessary, but it was a happy occasion nevertheless.

My mother in law is now 83 years old.  Earlier this year she had a dizzy spell in her house and fell.  She sprained her ankle and bruised herself up badly.  The recovery was going to take a while.

We live 150 miles away.

What happened next?  Panic time. Mom was going to have limited mobility and a long recovery time.  We'd have to cook for her, help clean for her, take care of shopping and transportation needs - from 150 miles away.

 But then, to the rescue...

There were several sets of guardian angels in my mother in law's life, and yesterday we all converged on my mother in law's house for a BBQ we had promised as a thank you.

Two sets of nieces and nephews, and a single niece, sprung into action to help my mother in law out.  These weren't local people either.  They lived closer than we do, but they still had to drive a bit.  One of the duos sometimes came out more than once a week.  They all had experience with caregiving for their elderly parents (in all cases, since deceased).  They did many things, too many things to mention, to help her recovery and make her everyday life easier.  I learned a lot from the experience.  I know we are going to have many more adventures in our care giving journey.  I know this is only the beginning. 

All of these relatives, and you know who you are, thank you.  You will always have a special place in my heart.

One of the nieces, during this whole process, gave me almost nightly updates on Facebook.  We kept in touch with my mother in law, of course, and visited when we could, and other siblings helped out also.  But we both work, and anyone who has done long distance caregiving knows how difficult it can be.  I know it is only going to get worse.  We've been lucky so far.

In our case, the fact that my mother in law lives with her developmentally disabled son just added to the complications.  That's worth a blog post all by itself.

Thankfully, my mother in law is a lot better now. But time marches on and she is very frustrated at what the aging process has done to her.

Today, the weather cooperated.  My spouse (the family cook) grilled hamburgers, white hots (a type of bockwurst popular in our part of upstate NY), pork tenderloin spiedies (spiedies are another specialty food of our area), and grilled vegetables.  Everyone else brought a covered dish or a dessert.  Two people brought their I-Pads and owning one is very tantalizing.  One of the men brought a remote control helicopter, called a Parrot, which is controlled through an I-Pad.  If I'm up to it, I'll post some pictures of the adventures of the Parrot later this week.

One of the couples brought their daughter, who will graduate high school on June 15. What a smart, well poised cousin my husband has.  This is a young woman who is going to go places.  She pitched right in and did more than her share of the cleanup.

After dinner, my mother in law brought her wedding photo album out for some family memories.

There is a lot of sadness in watching my mother in law age.  She's always been a hard worker, and it is so hard for her to sit down and let other people do the work. She kept herself in shape when younger, but time takes its toll on everyone.  A stroke several years ago didn't help her, either.

She managed to exhaust herself because she kept insisting on helping us out.  Still, I know she enjoyed herself very much today, and that is all that really mattered.

And now....we can keep worrying.  Worrying about when the next fall will be.

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